Sep 18, 2018

Springfield, MO Day 4, Pappy's Place September 17, 2018

Pappy's Place BBQ was recommended to me by my hosts at the B&B so before I left town I stopped by to see if the fuss had any merit.

Pappy's is a tiny little bar that sells BBQ. It's apparently well known for it's pulled pork sandwich, so I ordered that from a man behind the bar that turned out to be friendly despite his initial look up and down of me. (I'm pretty sure in his mind he was asking what the heck I was doing there and why the hell I needed any more food since I've gained about 50# since being in Missouri. Shut up.)


Food came out fast. Lightening fast. So fast it made me think their microwave must have already been loaded. While sitting at the bar, I opened the wrapper to find a pale pulled pork sandwich that was already sporting a soggy bun.  No way this was gonna make it into my belly.  I took a few finger pinches of it to taste and just as I imagined, it wasn't all that great.

I'm not sure what meat this is...could be coon. 

I paid the man, grabbed a jar of BBQ sauce to go (just in case), and headed to my car...where I ate some more of my Buckingham's BBQ.  I'm normally a "small, out of the way, dive joint" kinda gal, but this place should be reserved for drinking mixed drinks from a dirty glass when you've just been dumped by the love of your life or when your dog gets ran over by the UPS man. It happens.

Not a fan.


Springfield, MO Day 4: Buckingham BBQ September 17, 2018

Why, yes, that is my finger in the shot. 
After leaving the non-haunted Bed and Breakfast, I couldn't really figure out what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. It's the downfall of not having an anal retentive friend traveling with me. Normally, when Jen is with me, we have a huge spreadsheet with places, addresses, tips, and times the places are open. When I travel alone, I have a general idea of the direction I want to go...and I go. In this case, that was an issue.  But, my redneck roots took over and I thought, as long as I was in the national headquarters of Bass Pro Shops, I may a well visit them. So shopping I went.


After I spent money on crap I didn't need but that looked cool, I was in the parking lot trying to figure out what next when I looked up and saw the most beautiful site. Across the street was a BBQ joint! It was like the heavens opened up and the clouds parted...and I knew, just knew, it was fate. From where I was, I couldn't really tel much about the place...I wasn't too fond of the huge digital sign in front that grabbed my attention away from the important things...but luckily my brain was able to focus on the big BAR-B-Q words and I headed that direction. Turns out, it was the best move I'd made thus far in Missouri.

I had found Buckingham Smokehouse BBQ. Buckingham's in Springfield, MO is a branch of 5 BBQ restaurants in Springfield, Nixa, and Ozarks, MO. I'm a pretty flexible BBQ eater, so typically when I'm trying out a new place, I'll walk in and just ask them to serve me something they are famous for. In this case, I was greeted by a tall dude with such a peppy attitude, I seriously wanted to just hang out all day. I didn't get his name...but when he asked me where I was from (no idea how he knew I wasn't from MO), I told him I was from Oregon. His response was "We get people from all over but never as far as Oregon!" and he handed me a plate of burnt ends to try with some mustard BBQ sauce and some horseradish BBQ sauce. I have to admit, I've never been a fan of mustard or horsey sauce, but this stuff had me almost licking the plate.

Burnt ends and that special sauce...yummy 
We got to chatting and I told him I was in town to judge the American Royal...and he started telling the cooks and everyone that I was a BBQ judge and then the dude brings me a free rib, too! It was the nicest anyone has ever been to me.  Maybe I need to get out more, but seriously, this fellow was awesome. And the rib was perfection, just as the burn ends were. I went ahead and ordered burnt ends and two sides...despite the fact that I was planning on stopping for more BBQ soon...and I have no regrets whatsoever. The baked beans were so good...and the corn was perfection as well. In Oregon, we don't put cheese on our corn, so at first, I was a little hesitant but guess what? Cheese DOES make everything better.


Turns out, Buckingham BBQ did a stint on the Travel Channel for a show back in 2015, and it's still the talk of the place and on their billboard outside..but they have reason to be proud. This BBQ is top notch. Its so good I'm taking some burnt ends home to Oregon so I can enjoy Buckingham BBQ again...to my pals at home, good luck prying any of this out of my fingers.


While at Buckingham, I ended up chatting briefly with some other people who were visiting the place for the first time.  Our conversation basically included the phrases, "This is so good," "OMG, this is awesome" and "First time here too?" They were gracious enough to let me take their photo and post it here. I told them it was for my blog, I neglected to mention I'm not a famous blogger.

Happy Customers

Remember I told you about the very friendly, enthusiastic, awesome dude at the counter? He posed for me too!  He's totally smiling, can you see it???

The nicest person in ANY BBQ joint I've been to thus far! 

If you're around Springfield, MO, or any of the other locations, do yourself a huge favor and stop by. Everyone in this state is thrilled with burnt ends...it's ALL about the burnt ends...and this place did them the very best.

















American Royal - KC, MO - Day 3 . September 16, 2018

KC Speedway Day 2
Didn't rush to the speedway today because yesterday was too flipping hot. I stopped along the way at another McDonalds...and I'm not sure that employees at the MickyD's here in KC understand the meaning of FAST food...then I drove around the speedway about three times trying to find the entrance. By the time I got to the judge's sign in, I was a hot mess, thinking I was too late to judge. Luckily for me, I found my table and was greeted by the most fantastic Table Captain to ever walk the earth.

I'd love to be able to show you photos of the BBQ we judged. Or to share with you a bit of the twenty minute monologue we had to listen to prior to judging...or to recite to you the BBQ judge's code...in which as a judge you literally stand up and raise your right arm and promise and swear to judge the BBQ to the best of your ability subjectively and objectively for truth, liberty, and justice (or something like that). But alas, those things are all forbidden by the BBQ Judges code of conduct and I'm pretty sure a violation results in death.

I will tell you that we judged turkey, chicken, sausage, brisket, pork tenderloin, pork in another form, and ribs. I am allowed to tell you that some of the food was excellent. I'm not supposed to tell you that some of it, mainly some sausage, was so bad that we deduced the contestants must have cooked it then injected it into the sausage casing....which resulted in something I hope I never see again. The texture and the taste was similar to canned dog food. Before you get all snarky and say, "Have you tried canned dog food?" The answer is YES. I wanted to see what Trout was actually eating...and that's also why she now gets homemade food or FreshPet (because in the event of a zombie apocalypse, I know I could stomach FreshPet if it came down to living or dying). 

On Sunday at the event the vendors were gone...it was rather quiet...and people were packing up by the time we were finished judging.  I didn't stay for the awards because I had an appointment three hours away to check in at a B&B. 

But, I must mention that on Saturday and Sunday I met some fantastic people. I hung out with a couple from Montana on Saturday who were some of the nicest people I've met thus far while judging BBQ, or even traveling for that matter. I also ended up sitting next to a fellow I had talked to briefly outside while we were waiting to get into the judging area...and he was also a great person. On Sunday, I met people from my table that were fun to talk to and who made the down time of judging much more entertaining. And yeah, they were pretty awesome too!  I seriously didn't encounter one asshat the entire time I was at the event...which is shocking because I'm literally an asshat magnet.

The thing about going to these events is that everyone is there because they love BBQ. It's an automatic bond that sometimes reaches past the event and into Facebook...and even when it doesn't, it's still very rewarding to hear people's stories and to glimpse into someone's life. Talking to people usually makes me appreciate what I have and where I've been. I'm lucky to be able to travel and judge BBQ, and I can more easily recognize how fantastic that is when I meet like-minded people. I'm typically a hermit, so when I'm forced to step out of my comfort zone and be with people, I'm always amazed at what happens.

Of course, the best thing about traveling to KC to judge BBQ is what comes next...three extra days in KC to explore, to eat BBQ, to meet people, and to see fantastic things I'd never see from my living room window.

So let the games begin. 


Thank you to American Royal BBQ for having another great event. And to all those I met, THANK YOU for being such great people!!! 





Sep 17, 2018

American Royal - KC, MO - Day 2 . September 15, 2018

The American Royal World Series of BBQ is a yearly event held in Kansas City, currently located at the Kansas City Speedway. The Royal is in it's 39th year and is an official Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned event. As a KCBS judge, I get the honor of paying my airfare and other expenses to KC but get to taste all the bbq my stomach can stand during the competition when we are judging.

I'll give more details about how to become a judge in another blog...but until then, I'll keep rattling on about the American Royal.

The American Royal is the biggest bbq event in the world (according to their website)...and I can promise you the event was HUGE.

A Pano shot from the stands at KC Speedway..the event took up the entire infield.
There were so many people on the infield, it was like walking around the biggest bbq store in the world. The vast array of bbq's that contestants were cooking on was amazing. Every brand you can think of was represented. I took some photos of a few to show you the realm of possibilities.






I guess on Friday nights there is some stuff going on...cooking starts...and from what I hear, there's a wee bit of drinking that may go on...(I'm hoping to confirm this next year, wink wink). On Saturday there is an Invitational competition, and only the best of the best participate in that event. Those teams are ones who have won a Grand Championship..and they not only participate in the invitational but also in the Open Meats competition on Sunday.  There is also a "Sides" competition that includes beans, veggies, potatoes, and desserts. Lucky is the judge who gets to evaluate ALL the events!

I was chosen to judge the Open Meats and Sides competition. I arrived early so I could walk around and check out the entire festival which includes music, food and bbq sauces for purchase, and a lot of free samples of bbq and sides. Guess what? It was hotter than Georgia asphalt so getting there early was a bad idea. By the time I walked from my air conditioned car, to the speedway entrance, down the bleachers, across the speedway, then across the grass and to the infield, I was sweating and in need of some seriously cold water and a chair. People everywhere were dripping sweat and taking it all in like champions...while I whimpered and begged for shade.  I'm sorry, but Oregon doesn't get that hot or humid. I'm a delicate flower. I found shade (right before I passed out)..straight from Salem, Oregon!

Best Damn BBQ sauce from Salem, OR.
I met up with Mike White and his wife who had a booth..and they kindly invited me to stand in the shade for a spell.  If you are in search of some awesome sauce, check out their website: Best Damn BBQ Sauce you won't be sorry. I found these guys at the Salem Wednesday market earlier this year and brought samples of their sauce back to my office...it was a hit. Their Sweet Lady Love and Hot Damn That's Hot sauces are perfection in a bottle. Buy some.  Buy a lot!  They are champions. Literally.  Their Sweet Lady Love sauce took 1st place at the Royal once... That's impressive stuff.

Saturday's judging was for sides and desserts. The sides our table tried included a really bizarre mushroom sandwich thing (not my fav, I hate mushrooms); a "veggie" open faced sandwich with cheese, bacon, zucchini, and other veggies; cream cheese stuff jalapeƱos; and a green pepper stuffed with corn and zucchini.  In the sides competition, there is no real rule other than there can't be more than 7% meat in the dish. Obviously, that's pretty subjective.

After the first course, we tasted about six different type of baked beans followed by a round of potatoes...which included a lot of mashed potatoes and one potato salad..which was a rather disturbing color. I think sides would be a very difficult thing to make since not everyone likes all sides...and trying to be original can be difficult when there are over 200 entries.

Once we got to the dessert section our table was filled with anticipation for the judging to start...except one judge who declared he did not like cheesecake...what a fool.  (I kid, he was actually pretty cool and his wife liked cheesecake so it's all good).

I'm a cheesecake fanatic...so imagine my shock and awe when we got to judge a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake, a raspberry one, and a pumpkin one!  I was all giddy like a fat girl ijudging BBQ (Oh wait...snap. Must stop eating.).  Anyway, we also tasted some pumpkin shake/smoothie, some cake balls, and an adorable lemon/whip creamy thing that would have been fantastic if I liked lemon even a little bit.

Sad but true story here:  we are NOT allowed to take any photos while judging. In fact, our phones have to be tucked away completely...but we are allowed to take home what we don't eat...so the picture here is a fantastic piece of chocolate peanut butter cheesecake  and raspberry cheesecake after they've been smashed into a ziploc bag, pushed into an ice chest, thrown into the back of a car, and then driven 20 miles in 90 degree heat with what felt like a wall of humidity.  I'd say it still looks delish given what it's been through.



After all that food, I drove myself back to the hotel, carried my smashed cheesecake to my room, flopped on my bed and didn't move for 12 hours (except to reach over and take another bite of cheesecake).

It's a totally rough volunteer gig.  It really is.  

Springfield, MO - Day 3 . AFTER the Royal Haunted B & B September 16, 2018

Rushed out of the Kansas City Speedway/American Royal parking lot and drove three hours to stay the night in a "haunted" B & B called Walnut Street Inn that sits in downtown Springfield, MO. If any of you have read this blog before, you know my friend Jennifer and I take a haunted tour most Halloween's...so I thought in order to get in the spirit, I may as well partake upon a haunted night's stay here in Missouri.

Rosen Room

The Walnut Street Inn is a quaint little place that was built in mid 1890. The current owners don't mention anything about hauntings on their website and any reports of ghosts is clearly missing from the B&B's guest logs. There are some torn out pages in the log, adding to the mystery of the place...but alas, in all the photos I took, I didn't see one orb.  So either the ghosts that are there are quiet, or the place is not dusty at all.  You be the judge.


Rosen Room near the door

Bathroom in the Rosen Room

What I can tell you about the place is that it's incredibly clean and has a lot of original aspects still in place. There are three rooms on the 2nd floor, where the Rosen Room is located. Near the back is a steep set of stairs that lead to a back door that guests use after hours.

Siting Room on the 2nd Floor
There's a lovely sitting room on the second floor that all the rooms open up to...and it's clean and cozy.  No really my cup of tea, as I'm totally not into "house" history as much as I'm into serial killers and graveyard history...but my first thought upon seeing the Rosen Room and the decor of the house was that my friend Jennifer's mom would LOVE the place.



The rumor of a haunting was apparently started when someone was staying in the Rosen Room and they saw a woman sitting at a desk who was dressed in Victorian clothing.  The guest told the woman it was his room and she replied it was hers...then she disappeared. Staff reportedly have seen a woman in Victorian dress as well...but it's all hush hush and since it was, I didn't mention it to the friendly hosts so I got no first hand knowledge.  I'm annoying enough without asking about ghosts and murders everywhere I go.

Haunted or NOT? The bottom line is this: you know when you step into a room and it gives you chills...or you feel like someone is watching you...and the hair on the back of your neck stands up?  I would have loved to feel any of that after driving three hours from Kansas City to spend the night in the Rosen Room. Instead I heard the creak of the stairs as we climbed to the second floor...the product of original floors in a 1890's home. I heard the drip of water in the bathroom, the guests above me walking and talking, and street noises as people drove past the Inn. I'm not going to say it's not haunted...but I will freely admit if it is, the ghost are quite shy and are harmless.

In fact, I didn't get that creepy feeling in any part of the house. And you can bet I got up around 3 am and walked around, floors creaking under my feet, and also snapped some photos in my room at that time...but nothing. And trust me, as much as I pretend to be a ghost hunter, if I felt even a little uneasy in the place, I would have high-tailed it to my car and slept in the back seat like a scared little girl who's just saw her parents having sex. 

Sep 16, 2018

American Royal 2018 - Kansas City, MO: Day 1 - Arriving to Volunteer


Quotes About Volunteering -Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.-
Volunteering IS a rewarding thing. And to volunteer does make the world a better place. But, once you discover the type of volunteer work I did this weekend, you stop and consider whether I'm a saint or a sinner.

I DID donate a lot of time...two days!  And I DID fly over 1,800 miles on my OWN dime to volunteer. And I did volunteer for a non-profit. I DO sound like a saint, right?  Would it change your mind if I said I was volunteering as a bbq judge at the 2018 American Royal World Series of BBQ? Probably, right? Oh well, after my last volunteer gig with the 40 3rd and 4th graders, I think I deserved this one.

I hopped on a plane in Portland, OR (after 3 delays and 2 hours of additional wait time, I'm really nearing sainthood) and landed in Kansas City, MO on Friday night. Here's a fun fact: if you're more than two hours late to pick up your rental car, Budget cancels your reservation.  Did you know that?  It makes for an entertaining wait in line. And it gives one cheeky chick (namely me), a chance to almost get beat up while reserving a car.

It went like this:

While I was waiting in line for my car, I heard the counter dude explain that a lady had come in earlier and was all ticked off about the Jeep she rented having some fingerprints on the dash. The counter guy (who I'm gonna call Earl) said the lady basically ripped his head off and spit down his neck...which I found very entertaining and sad at the same time.

Being a shy, polite, and boring gal, I walk up to the counter as two new customers step into my place in line. The customers are a man and wife duo, and its pretty clear the woman is in charge...she's bossing the man around like he's a two year old and he's tipping his head and jumping at every word.
Keep in mind, this duo have not heard Earl tell his story....

I get to the counter and look at Earl and in the nicest possible voice say,
         "I hope I get a car because if I don't, I'm gonna have to rip your head off and spit down your                  neck."
Earl starts to respond when all the sudden Macho woman behind me says,
        "WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY?!!!!"
Earl says, "She said she was gonna rip my head off and spit down my neck." And he laughs a bit.
And I laugh.  Because it's REALLY funny that this lady is now bouncing up and down and moving her weight from foot to foot like a boxer ready to lunge.
Then Earl tells me that it was a sad moment...and he's talking about the other lady saying that to him...but Macho Lady doesn't know that...and she starts asking again,
        "WHAT DID SHE SAY!??"
And I laugh again, cause now she's really worked up...
Finally Earl says to me, "You should have seen her (Macho Lady's) eyes bulge!
And I turn around and Macho lady is asking again, "What did you say to him?"
Although at this point I should stop goofing around, I say, "Yeah, I said I was gonna rip his head off and spit down his neck."  And I pause for effect...then Earl jumps in and tells the poor lady about the other customer...and she looks at me...and I look at her and smile my biggest shinny smile...
and she says to me, "I was about ready to come over there and give you a beating!"

I looked her up and down and said, "Oh don't do that!" with as much of a shake in my voice I could muster without cracking up while the little devil on my shoulder was saying, "You could take her!" 

I drove straight to McDonalds, waited in the drive-through for a good 30 minutes for a quarter pounder with cheese and unsweetened tea, and wondered if I told the teenager at the drive-thru I was going to rip her head off and spit down her neck I'd get my food faster. Probably not.

As I climbed into my hotel bed...the one that came with full time freeway noise as if the fast lane was at my headboard, laughed one more time about Macho Lady...and I prayed for her husband.































...and the rewards are endless...but for some reason, I don't necessarily feel as though I've given much of myself...because my
I don't necessarily think that's true of the type of volunteering I participated in this weekend.  2018 American Royal World Series of BBQ competition



Jul 20, 2018

Volunteer Gig: Kid's Camp 2018

I just spent four days volunteering at a camp for kids grades 3-6 sponsored by a local police department. It's four days of kids, kids, kids.  Oh, and fun stuff for them to do that allows them to interact with various agencies such as Police, Fire, Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Search and Rescue, SWAT, and a Martial Arts company.

There were around 250 kids, which felt like 25,000. I'm not much of a kid person, so I really stepped out of my comfort zone but I found it quite rewarding.  I'm naturally curious about all things, so I stopped thinking about how I'd much rather be downing margaritas (and trust me, I needed them after the first few hours) and started thinking about the kids and their behavior.

Here's what I noticed or learned...

All the kids were great at times...some were awesome most of the time...and a few were obviously sent from the depths of hell to push me into insanity or alcoholism.  I was actually afraid to drink during the week since I could imagine I'd never want to stop. Seriously.

Third and fourth graders are so full of energy and life, they actually made me want to be a healthier person. I wanted to be able to run and jump and laugh and scream at will without my bones creaking or my foot, back, neck, ankle, etc, hurting. Trust me, though, after a day with those kids, I needed a nap and a soft couch...for hours.

Some girls don't want to compete against boys. Some girls apparently learn (at a very young age) that it's not "fair" to compete against boys.  I politely explained that it's not fair...for the boys!  I want to ensure ya'll know I'm not totally generalizing, some of the girls were all for it, but the majority had serious issues with competing against boys. We weren't even playing for prizes...and still, some girls refused to play at all because they didn't feel comfortable competing because they thought the boys had an unfair advantage. What exactly are we teaching our little girls to make them think they aren't equal? And, even more of concern, is how are we going to make these girls believe they CAN compete when they are older if they can't even do it in the third grade?

Some girls learn way too soon that being "pretty" gets you special treatment. I actually had two little girls run up to me and tell me they got a prize because they were "cute."  I'm sure it wasn't meant as a bad thing, and it wasn't a gesture done out of any weirdness...and they were the most adorable girls I've ever seen. The girls were thrilled they were given free slurpies and they didn't have to do anything at all other than smile and look pretty.  So smile.  And be pretty.  Cause good things will come.  Right.

Some girls fall in love and chase boys they have no chance of getting. I'm not just talking about me and the cute fireman I saw (cause I DO realize I'm way too old and entertaining for him) I was shocked to see this behavior can begin as soon as third grade....and I felt so bad for the little girl who didn't understand why the boy didn't return her affection (in this case, that would have been in the form of sitting with her when he said he would). It was horrific to see this little 3rd grader heartbroken over a boy who would never really notice her.  And I thought she was way too young to feel that way. And I wanted to warn her, this is the first of many! Sad.  Poor thing.

Parents lie about their kid's medical history.  I say this with all the kindness and love I can muster, but trust me, I surmise that some of these kids certainly have medical issues (think ADHD, autism, etc) that parents didn't report to staff.  This information is important in placing kids with the right team and ensuring the kids get the attention they need and deserve. Having this information can make the difference between your kid having a great time or feeling like someone is badgering them because they are incapable of sitting still during a 40 minute presentation.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned is this:

Teachers and those who work with kids on a daily basis are saints.

I've never obviously* had kids. (*thank goodness)  But, there is no greater form of birth control than having your high schooler participate in a kids camp and allow them to be around 40 kids and be primarily in charge of ensuring the kids get to their destination on time, keep quiet when needed, play safely, don't take cuts, don't scream, cheat, push, pull, stomp on, run over, chase each other with fish guts, or any other action activity that may be unacceptable at any given time. So get those kids out there to volunteer!

Aww, kids.  You gotta love them...especially since you can't put them in the backyard with the dog...who am I trying to snowball? Trout doesn't even stay in the backyard. She has full run of the house and I'm pretty darn sure any kid of mine would have full run of everything too.

This was an awesome experience, so get your web browser up and moving...start looking for a kid's camp to volunteer with! And if YOU work with kids, thank you thank you thank you!  You're a super special person who deserves all the best in life!!!